Dell and The University of Cambridge Deliver HPC Power to Researchers

  • The Solution Centre marks a significant new collaboration aiming to accelerate discovery
  • HPC solution blueprints and firsthand operational HPC experience targeted at solving “real world” challenges
  • The Solution Centre provides a unique combination of Cambridge HPC operational excellence and Dell technology leadership to form a world class centre of excellence in HPC solution development
  • Pools industry leaders in HPC operations, applications and commodity HPC technologies with a focus on driving down the cost and complexity of HPC solutions whilst increasing uptake and productivity
  • Hosts truly community driven activities with all solutions being gifted back to the community via a series of white papers, technical bulletins and targeted outreach

CAMBRIDGE, U.K. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — July 21, 2010 — Dell and The University of Cambridge announced today the opening of the Dell | Cambridge High Performance Computing (HPC) Solution Centre. This significant new collaboration aims to form EMEA’s leading HPC centre of excellence for all areas of the HPC community, whether academic or commercial. The Centre will combine large-scale, commodity-based HPC infrastructure with experienced and specialised research know-how, to overcome the traditional barriers of entry to HPC, providing academic and private sector research organisations with cost-effective, readily accessible HPC solutions designed to meet “real life” HPC challenges. Teams from Dell, The University of Cambridge and a network of third-party HPC technology vendors will build and test research-specific HPC solutions, contributing operational excellence and best in class HPC technical blueprints back to the HPC community through a series of freely available whitepapers, technical bulletins and targeted outreach activities.

The University of Cambridge is a world-leading teaching and research institution, consistently ranked within the top three universities worldwide. The University also forms the central hub of Europe’s largest technology centre with more than 1,200 technology companies located in science parks surrounding the city and boasting Europe’s largest bio-technology centre.

As a long-term Dell customer, the University has built a reputation for excellence and understanding in developing real-world, production-ready HPC solutions that can be used within a wide-range of private and public sector research environments, with a significant emphasis on commodity clustered HPC solutions. The Solution Centre will be based out of the existing Cambridge HPC Service building, a facility already being used for delivering HPC services via a cloud computing model. On the University campus, the HPC cluster supports around 400 internal users spread across 70 research groups ranging from traditional hard sciences such as chemistry, physics and biology, through to areas rapidly growing in popularity for HPC-based research such as bio-medicine, clinical-medicine and social sciences.

Led by Dr. Paul Calleja, Director HPC Service, the team has gathered a vast wealth of information and experience in designing, building and running research–ready HPC solution stacks. Areas of expertise include:

  • Lustre parallel file systems, storage design, implementation and operation
  • GPU Clusters – CUDA programming and GPU cluster system integration
  • Scientific visualisation – commodity 3D Visualization and remote visualisation
  • Application optimization and benchmarking, MPI profiling
  • Resource management and scheduling
  • HPC Cloud provisioning

It is this expertise, along with Dell’s specialised team, that will provide the foundation for support at the Cambridge HPC Solution Centre and contribute its findings back to the HPC community. Using these building blocks, other researchers can easily replicate a deployment of a solution stack with the confidence that the components have already been tested and optimised in a production environment by experts in the field, reducing unnecessary rollout or trial-and-error testing costs. Dell will also use the Solution Centre as a demonstration base for its European HPC account teams to provide a deeper view of HPC technologies to customers and prospects in the region.


“HPC has long been the stronghold of expensive proprietary systems with highly-tuned, closed platforms competing to process the most data in the least amount of time. For customer in the real world however, these systems are rarely fit for more general research purposes, not least because their prohibitive price tags make purchasing them inconceivable to the majority of cost-conscious research facilities. Dell believes there is a better way. Using open, standardised x86 server and storage architectures, Dell brings simplified and flexible HPC to a wider end-user audience and the Dell | Cambridge HPC Solution Centre is a shining example of what can be achieved. By donating our time and resources to this project, Dell is not only contributing back to the HPC community, but also giving customers the tools and guidance to adopt HPC solutions in a more efficient manner to drive down the cost and complexity traditionally associated with this highly technical section of IT. In addition, we can learn a huge amount about how wide-scale HPC projects run in the wild. This invaluable knowledge is then fed back to Dell’s customers as our technology evolves.”

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